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Sharks In First Place at Halfway Point

Coach McLellan Looking for a Little More Consistency

Wednesday, 01.13.2010 / 10:02 PM / News
By San Jose Sharks Staff
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Sharks In First Place at Halfway Point
Head Coach Todd McLellan awarded his club a well deserved day off on Wednesday due to their two-game sweep of their road trip to Los Angeles and Phoenix. Tuesday night’s 3-1 win at jobing.com Arena placed the Sharks back at the top of the Naitonal Hockey League’s overall standings.

No one in the Sharks organization is saying another first overall finish is the top priority, but there’s no question that being one of the NHL’s elite franchises and securing a high seed is the best route to playoff success.

What’s unique about the Sharks this year vs. last year is there seems to be a matter-of-fact attitude about leading the race to the Presidents’ Trophy. The Sharks know there are more important goals and that their regular season success will not be judged in the points race, but in the way they play every night.

“There’s no talk about the standings and playing in first place,” McLellan said. “It’s about our game and correcting things.”

Last year, San Jose was in Boston (who’s the opponent on Thursday) around this time and there was plenty of hype about the NHL’s top-two teams facing each other. The situation is different this year as Boston is second in the Northeast Division and tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with the New York Rangers.

“Last year at this time, we went to Boston and so much was made of the two No. 1 teams,” McLellan said. “It’s not like that this year and that’s a good thing for our team.”

The Sharks underwent more than just a physical change this summer when they brought in 11 new players. They also adapted their style and that style is making them more adept at close battles.

“We play a little different and that’s by design with the personnel and the system,” McLellan said. “Last year at this time we were a bit faster and smoother. We relied on the power play.”

The 2009-10 Sharks aren’t only content to grind out a 2-1 victory on the road like they did against Los Angeles on Monday, but they’re excelling at winning close ones. That’s helped them stay amongst the NHL’s top teams and most importantly, a resemblance to the type of game played in the postseason.

“The fact that we have to play a different, grind it out style is a good thing,” McLellan said.

Center Joe Pavelski enjoyed the last two games, even though the Sharks only scored four goals in those two wins.

“There weren’t a lot of goals, but it was good hockey,” he said. “We understand we can do it. We seem like a little tougher team and those are the type of games we need to win in the playoffs.”

One could think McLellan would be happy with having the NHL’s best record (30-10-7 for 67 points). But like any successful coach in any sport, not so.

“I don’t think we’re consistent enough,” McLellan said.

“It’s important to be consistent every day,” Pavelski said. “You can’t work hard every day of the week and have a let down for one game. Then you have to work to get that (consistency) back. That’s the part of the game you can control.”

McLellan isn’t saying he’s unhappy with San Jose’s performance in the last two games. But what he’s saying is he wants to see the same type of performance in each of the remaining 35 regular season games.

“We have to live in the moment,” McLellan said. “We can’t be happy with the past. You can’t be looking ahead or back. You’ve got to deal with the game at hand.”

“It’s a day in, day out process,” Pavelski said.

And being consistent will help the Sharks in the marathon that’s the regular season.

“You don’t win medals in a marathon at the 12-mile marker,” McLellan said. “We’ve got a long, long way to go.”

A QUICK RECAP
McLellan spoke about wanting consistency. He’s seen that come in three different ways.

“Our penalty kill has been consistent throughout the year and a strength,” said McLellan of the group that current ranks second in the NHL. “We had changes in the room and have very good faceoff people. They had to learn a new system and I give them credit for picking it up quickly.”

Most fans were counting on the offensive production being put up by newcomer Dany Heatley, but few were expecting Patrick Marleau to be leading the NHL in goals at this stage of the year following an offseason that saw him being relieved of his captaincy.

“You have to know Patty as an individual,” McLellan said. “You can second guess people all you want, but if you know them (like the Sharks know Marleau) you have a pretty good idea how to read them. There are some strong relationships and with Patty and his teammates and with the coaches.”

OLYMPICS
The Winter Olympics are almost a month away. McLellan is well aware of the extra grind the Olympics will put on his club, but he will deal with it when it comes to resting his players.

“The fact is, they will play eight more games and that’s a tenth of the season,” McLellan said. “We have to be aware of that.”

FASTEST TO 30
Marleau’s two goals on Tuesday night in Phoenix kept him in the NHL’s lead with 31. He’s in front of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (29), Marian Gaborik of the Rangers (28), Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Heatley (27).
Marleau became the first NHL player to reach the 30-goal mark this season when he opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal in the Sharks 3-1 win at Phoenix. It's the first time that a San Jose player has been the “first to 30” in a season.
SJO TO ORH
The Sharks have assigned defenseman Jason Demers to their top development affiliate in Worcester (American Hockey League).

NEXT GAME
San Jose will play hosts to Boston at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be available on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 41 38 23 79
J. Thornton 82 11 65 20 76
P. Marleau 82 33 37 0 70
L. Couture 65 23 31 21 54
B. Burns 69 22 26 26 48
T. Wingels 77 16 22 11 38
D. Boyle 75 12 24 -8 36
J. Demers 75 5 29 14 34
T. Hertl 37 15 10 11 25
M. Nieto 66 10 14 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 12 5 2 .932 1.87
A. Niemi 39 17 7 .913 2.39
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